Osamu Tezuka’s Legendary Work Set for Upcoming Stage Adaptation: A Look into the Iconic Show

Advertisement

The upcoming production, “Black Jack Mangeki!! Osamu Tezuka Dai-5 Kan: The Fusion of Comics and Theater,” is set to stage eight performances at the Human Art Theater in Tokyo next year. Akio Otsuka, who has voiced the character of Black Jack since 1993, will portray the titular character alongside co-star Ippei Osako, who has appeared in various successful films and TV shows. The play, directed and scripted by Ryusei Kudo, is part of Osamu Tezuka’s “Mangeki!” series and is scheduled to run from March 20 to 24, 2024.

Anime stage adaptations have gained popularity in Japan, with successful shows like Jujutsu Kaisen and Attack on Titan being reimagined through live performances. Western distributors have taken notice of this trend, with some making such programs available overseas. For instance, Shout! Studios recently released an English-subtitled version of “Spirited Away: Live on Stage” on Blu-ray and digital platforms. Although the latest Black Jack stage show hasn’t been confirmed for home video release, the enduring popularity of the character raises hopes for potential international distribution in the future.

Osamu Tezuka’s “Black Jack” manga debuted in Weekly Shonen Champion in November 1973. The story follows the genius doctor Black Jack, who practices medicine without a license and charges high fees for his services. Despite his unorthodox methods, Black Jack saves patients that would otherwise face death. While highly skilled, he prefers working alone and relies on his young assistant, Pinoko, for support. Alongside Astro Boy, Black Jack is one of Tezuka’s most iconic characters.

Advertisement

Although Tezuka concluded the “Black Jack” manga in 1983, the character recently celebrated its 50th anniversary with a new 32-page one-shot titled “Black Jack Kinkai no Shinzo – Heartbeat Mark II.” However, this release sparked controversy among fans as it used AI to replicate Tezuka’s art style. Despite fan dissatisfaction, Tezuka’s son, Makoto Tezuka, affirmed that the manga honored his father’s spirit and themes. “Heartbeat Mark II” was published in Weekly Shonen Champion on Nov. 22, 2023.

The first performance of “Black Jack Mangeki!” is scheduled for March 20, and the “Black Jack” manga is available in English through Vertical Inc.